Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Technique Tuesday - Salt Block Cooking

Last fall my husband and I stumbled upon The Spice and Tea Exchange in Charleston. We walked in and my husband saw these pink salt blocks and instantly started asking the salesperson a gazillion questions on what they were, how to use them, what to cook on them, etc. If you are going to be using your salt block on the grill you want to make sure that you buy a higher quality one that is thick. The thinner salt blocks are used for serving and won't withstand the heat of the grill over a long period of time. By the way these are super heavy so make sure if you purchase one it is your last stop on your shopping trip!
Needless to say we came home with one and it say in the closet for almost a year before we tried it out. Even though it did sit in the closet for almost a year, we did manage to buy a cookbook on Amazon to learn more about salt block cooking.
If you are going to invest in a salt block I definitely suggest the cookbook. Not so much for the recipes but more for the science and technique behind it! It was extremely helpful for us to reference while we were testing out the salt block.

A few key things to remember about cooking on a salt block that we learned from the book!

  • Heat cookware grade salt blocks only
  • Slowly warm up the salt block
  • Do not touch the salt block when heating and use proper hand protections
  • Do not soak the salt block in water to clean
  • Damp sponge and scrubbing will clean the block
So, the first thing to know about salt block cooking is patience. You have to gradually warm up the salt block in 15 minute increments. Starting with low flames and gradually increase. 
Also, when you are reading directions it says to heat to 300-500 degrees, the thing to remember this isn't the temperature inside the grill it is the actual salt block. Our book had a great tip to see if your salt block is hot enough and ready for food. Just in case you didn't have a infrared thermometer laying around! 
  • Place your hand about 1.5 inches away from the salt block. If you can barely hold your hand there for 2 seconds then it is hot enough!!!
To prep the food make sure to spray your food with olive oil or the oil of your choice. For our first test we did Tuna Kebobs. Looking back we should have just done tuna steak since this was our first time experimenting with the block! The Tuna kebobs came out fine but we had to rotate on all four sides!
When the grill is hot enough and you can't hold your hand near the salt block you can place your meat on the salt block. Cooking times will vary based on what you are cooking. Depending on what you are cooking you might actually turn off the flames, or turn them down lower so not to overcook your food. This is another reason the cookbook can come in handy for direction on how long to cook your meats/fish!

Our meal came out excellent and we can't wait to try other recipes!! 

Other then that cooking on the salt block is super easy and no different then your grill. After we were done cooking we left the salt block on the grill overnight to cool. Remember this was heated to over 500 degrees so you want to make sure it is fully cooled before handling. 

To clean you can run under water and wipe with a paper towel. However, I am not going to lie that you really need to put some elbow grease into cleaning. 
Next time I am going to make sure I spray our food better so it doesn't adhere to the block. I am also going to attempt the first wipe/clean when it is cooling on the grill. 

Other salt block items you can buy our bowls (great for ceviche) and shot glasses (high quality tequila)!

I will definitely work on more recipes using the salt block but just wanted to share what I have learned!

Happy Pinning!
By Jennifer Shelton